I can’t talk about the head horse/heel horse market without talking about just general horse sales because I have to buy horses from other disciplines, which are exploding. Ultimately, it has to be passed through to the other markets—the rope horse market and everything like that. Prospects are costing more money, so for people to be paid anything for their time, it has to be passed through. They’re not buying prospects for as cheap as they were the last three to five years. Prices have been escalating, but I don’t feel like it’s been passed through to the team roping, heading and heeling market as fast as it’s been passed through to the people who are buying them out of the reining or cutting horse sales. It’s going to have to catch up at some point.
Ropers are used to a certain average price for a horse, but what they’ve got to realize is that the average price is getting passed through earlier. It’s escalating from the previous buyers or the trainers, so it has to come out somewhere or nobody is going to be training horses. My hope is that it does come through fast enough to not discourage trainers to go to other disciplines. If guys making team roping horses are handy enough to make other types of horses, I hope that they’re getting paid for their time in our industry so that the quality of the horses in our industry don’t go down.
At the end of the day, if you’re selling a finished horse, they’re judged on performance first and foremost and pedigree second. If you’re selling young horses, it’s 50/50. Depending on how far along that horse is, it overrides the pedigree in my opinion. But it means everything when you’re buying prospects. That and how they move is what I look at because I have nothing else to go on at that point.
The horses have been so expensive, whether it’s sales or private treaty for 3- and 4-year-olds, and it never fails, you have to get them over certain things or certain vices. So we went and started getting younger horses—2-year-olds, and we’re starting them from the ground up, for two reasons: because if we’re going to have fix something, we might as well not have to pay for it. But it puts us a year behind at least as far as the time it takes to make a good horse or a good prospect.